In June I’ll be teaching a class entitled Log Cabin with a Flair at the Vermont Quilt Festival. Of course I want to WOW my students with a new, never-before-seen log cabin block, so I’ve spent the week doodling ideas.
The log cabin block has been around since the very beginning of quilting, centuries ago, so coming up with something that no one else has thought of is probably impossible. However, I continue on my quest to create some new innovation. Just when I’m feeling victorious, I usually discover that someone else had the same idea.
Doodling is probably not the proper term for what I’ve been up to. Unlike the average random wanderings on a blank sheet of paper, my “doodling” requires a ruler and graph paper.
Call me weird, but sitting with a large piece of naked graph paper before me waiting to be filled with my carefully calculated lines is something I find exhilarating. The anticipation of what my block will look like, should all my calculations be correct, keeps me pushing on through all my trials and errors. Yes, erasing is also an important component in my design.
As an instructor, I meet all kinds of quilters. I’m always open to input from my students and encourage them to share their ideas with the class. I am self-taught and am known for flying by the seat of my pants. I do what works for ME and encourage my students to do what works for THEM.
Over the past couple of years I have come to realize that the tech world has permeated literally everything, even the joy of quilting. For me, there is no greater satisfaction than creating something using just my brain without the help of a hand-held device.
I have visions of presenting my hard-earned graph-paper technique to a class and hearing someone say “There’s an APP for that.” I fear that day is coming all too soon.
Progress? I’m not so sure.
The results of my efforts are the blocks on the left and lower right. I’m happy with the results and I’m sure it will become one of my favorite blocks. It was a bit tricky to piece, but well worth the time and patience it took to design and sew it. I haven’t decided just how I’ll use them, but, I have a title, Opposites Attract. Stay tuned.
As you can probably assume by now, I am very much into working in that Black/White/Touch of color theme which began with an ARTAA (my fiber arts group) challenge. This is piece number three and the ideas are still flowing. I fear another obsession coming on. Yikes!
ARTAA was asked to do some demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum’s Fall Fest in early October. I decided to bring along my ruler and graph paper and show our visitors how to draft a twisted log cabin block. As an overachiever, a simple square wasn’t enough for me. I designed twisted triangles, equilateral, isosceles and even scalene triangles with a twist. No, I am not as intelligent as this post makes me out to be. I had to Google triangles to find out what the various shapes were called. The last math class I had was in 1955, far too long ago for me to remember.
With a little help from hubby and a compass, together we figured out how to draft a hexagon and even a pentagon which required a formula. As my enthusiasm and my confidence grew, I decided to go really BIG. Why not a twisted octagon? As I sat at the museum with my pattern taking shape, I made a discovery. Men, who usually walk quickly past a group of women quilting, actually stopped to check out what I was doing. It looked complicated which they found quite interesting.
I came home with the completed pattern and wondered if this old brain could actually figure out how to piece this puzzle. “To ward off senility, challenge your brain” is the advice given to senior citizens. If completing a crossword puzzle was considered helpful, what would completing this sucker do for me.
I am very proud to report that this old lady passed the senility test. Crazy, yes. Senile, no. Starting in the center, round and round I sewed seeing my vortex take shape with each finished row. I completed the piece in a week, something of a record for me. I see me getting sucked into the quilted whirlpool-making business. Once I figured out what to sew and where to sew next, this was actually fun.
I titled the piece Vortex and hung it on point which made it even more interesting to my eye.
Working frantically to complete the seven pieces I’d registered for our guild’s upcoming quilt show, I saved the best for last. Truth be told, I had no idea where I was going with this piece, so I procrastinated, hoping for inspiration. I actually wrote the description for the registration form long before the work was begun. Since I usually change my approach many times while making a piece, this was a lousy idea. I had to make the quilt fit the description. No easy task, and I had to make it using only log cabin blocks!
I had entitled the wall hanging Fire in the Cabin. My job was to make that vision come true. Gathering all the fabrics I thought might work, I made far too many sample blocks trying to get the look just right. Total failure. In desperation, I finally decided to go with a variety of my most sparkly fabrics. If all else fails, go for the glitz! Of course, they were the ones that proved most difficult to work with. I used a black velvet with gold metallic roses (Yuk), a copper knit from a thrift shop sweater, copper lame, a red knit with tinsel woven into it and an array of batiks.
I paper-pieced the entire center of the piece and used an ash-like grey/black fabric to construct the log cabin border. It seemed like such a good idea at the time…fire…ashes… This proved to be a very bad decision. The blah border sucked the life out of the piece, so I covered it with a black tulle which had flecks of glitter. Sparks!
My first thought was….”Just get it done. You don’t have to like it.” However, as I worked, my excitement grew. I WAS liking it. It was very cool….or, should I say very hot? Maybe not the fire I had envisioned, but it definitely has SIZZLE! The copper metallic quilted flames in the border and the copper lame binding completed the piece. I think it probably glows in the dark. It definitely glows in the light. I’m smiling broadly. A fiber artist’s version of log cabin! Certainly not boring!
As a teenager, my dream was to be a fashion designer. Life took me in other directions. These days, creating fantasy fashions that I will NEVER wear, is a fulfilling way for me to fill idle hours.
My local quilt guild’s biennial quilt show is fast approaching. As part of the show, there is a log cabin challenge. I always take the “unusual” approach to this challenge. No bed quilts for this art quilter!
This year’s challenge entry began with one of my many unfinished projects, my attempt to create an abstract beaded “whatever”. Having spent many hours sewing tiny seed beads onto canvas, I didn’t want the piece to end up in a drawer along with all my other UFOs. I decided to complete the beading and use it as part of my log cabin entry.
From silky fabrics that complimented the beading, I made eight twisted log cabin blocks that eventually became a purse. The beaded piece was used as the flap.
To add a touch of whimsy, I completed the ensemble with a “fascinator”. Using a fabric-covered headband as my base, I attached three double-sided twisted log cabin blocks, added some tulle and beaded the sides of the headband. A teenager’s dream come true! Now, if only I had the guts to wear my fantasy fashion in public!